Monday, June 14, 2010

Soul Mates

I am a hopeless romantic. Having just read that sentence and noting that the title of this post is “Soul mates,” you might expect this post to be about how we are all broken halves of souls trying to find the other half of our soul, and when we meet The One everything is perfect and we live happily ever after. I think that’s a beautiful idea, but I’m not sure I believe that.

One of my Rabbis in seminary once gave us a shiur about shidduchim and soul mates. He said that he believes that everyone has one person who they are destined to be with. We all know the famous Gemara which states that 40 days after a baby is born it is declared who they are going to marry. The point of this Rabbi’s shiur was that there is one person out there for all of us, and so we had better start davening for that person. Because what if that person has been making bad choices in life and is headed on a bad path? Let’s say while we’re here learning, growing, working on our middot, our bashert is involved with activities that are not quite so holy. Well, that is the person we are meant to marry, so we should daven that they make good choices and find the right path. Let’s say that person takes risks and isn’t safe and chas v’shalom something bad happens to them and they have some health issue (example: smoking, reckless driving), that is still the person we are going to marry. So daven that everything is going well with them because that is what is meant to be.

Maybe I used to believe there was only one person out there for everyone, but I certainly didn’t believe that after that shiur. I’m here being a good person while he’s out drinking, smoking, and who knows what else and too bad, I’m stuck with him? I don’t believe that. The other big issue that comes up when it comes to the whole soul mates issue is: what about people who remarry? Either because they got divorced, or their spouse passed away. Is their current spouse their soul mate? Is their previous spouse their soul mate?

I’m not sure where I heard this or if I just kind of put it together myself based on other ideas I’ve learned, but the way I see it, we are all flexible puzzle pieces. I call this the Puzzle Piece Theory. We all have a basic shape, but we can move around a bit to fit together with more than one other piece. Meaning, there are a small number of people out there who we are compatible with, who we could marry and have a happy marriage with under the right circumstances. If we change one way, then we fit better with one piece, but if we change a different way then we are more compatible with a different piece. At any given point in time, there is only one person who is best for us.

We are always changing shape and our potential basherts are always changing shape. At one point in time we somehow meet one of these people who has changed in certain way so we mostly fit together. You could meet one of these people, but because you changed in different ways then they did, you won’t end up marrying them. Does that make sense? The great thing about this theory is that if my “bashert” has gone off the derech, I don’t need to fear that my only options are to be single the rest of my life or marry someone who doesn’t keep shabbos or share my life values. I’ll find someone else to marry who fits my puzzle piece.

I still think that ideally, there is one shape we are supposed to be, and there is only one puzzle piece that fits it perfectly, given that that person has taken the shape they are supposed to be. Not everyone finds that person. Some people are lucky enough to find someone who really is The One, but others marry one of the very few other people (one out of, I don’t know, ten, at most) who they can possibly be with. It’s not a bad thing. Instead of being 100% perfect, it’s 99.9%. It’s barely detectable, and you might not know the difference. But if you end up remarrying, that second person can be equally as perfect for you. That doesn’t mean the love you felt for either one of those people is any less.

This doesn’t mean I don’t see a point in davening for your bashert. Hashem knows what’s going to happen and who you’re going to end up marrying, and the same way you daven for the people in your life right now, you should daven for the person who is going to be in your life. (Though, on a side note, I admit that often when I daven for that person I imagine that he is hoping to get married, so I daven that Hashem will help him find the person to marry…which is me, so that’s kind of selfish, but anyway…)

It would be great to find someone and know that they are the only one for you and that you were meant to be and that you are two halves of a soul and there is no one else for either of you. I wish we could all experience that. But not everyone does, which is why I’m sticking to the puzzle piece theory. May we all be zoche to find the right puzzle piece that matches us best at the right time. Amen.


  1. Your puzzle piece theory is similar to the rest of that Gemara on Sotah 2A. There IS the concept of zivug rishon and zivug sheini, and a number of explanations to go along with those concepts. The one that fits what you're talking about is zivug rishon = bas kol person, and zivug sheini is either the person you get if you or the bas kol person don't live up to a certain spiritual potential, or a 2nd marriage later in life.

    I also recently read one of those Breslov pamphlets on marriage (I got bored and the tzedaka guy gave me one, so why not?) and it specifically mentions that the "reason" why some people get divorced or die, leaving the other person to remarry is because they davened for a specific individual to marry them - which is a big no-no. You can get what you asked for, but that isn't always what's best. You need to daven for the right one, whoever he/she may be. Though I don't think we can always point to a tragic case we might know of (I had a friend who recently passed away suddenly months after his wedding) and say that is the reason, but there may be some sense to this.

    So the whole system is more fluid, like the way you describe with the flexible pieces of a puzzle. The Gemara there also says that shidduchim for HaShem is as hard as parting the yam suf - just like the "difficulty" of breaking nature, so too it is with His arranging shidduchim - because it your bas kol person didn't live up to where he needed to be, you get the "best fit" guy, who was someone else's bas kol guy, and thus the ENTIRE WORLD GAME BOARD of shidduchim shifts.

    Scary isn't it?

    That's why it's better just to daven for the right one and not think about these things... ;)

  2. Rabbi Yisroel Reisman had a shiur on this; it seems, for centuries already, people have been marrying their non-basherts, usually for financial reasons. He brings a number of stories of gedolim who wed women who were unable to bring money to the table. If one decides they know better than the Eibishter, then they'll end up with a match made in the bank.

  3. Shades of Grey- I've heard of that gemara about zivug rishon and zivug sheini before...I wonder if there is a zivug shlishi and revi'i etc. or if it's a fixed number?

    I also have a problem with saying that you can steal someone elses "bas kol guy" (as you put it :D)- that doesn't seem fair, what happens to that other person?

    Bookworm- your insight leads into another question of: can something happen that Hashem doesn't want to happen? Doesn't Hashem always do what's best? How can someone marry someone who Hashem doesn't want them to marry? I touched on that a bit here:

  4. It only mentions up to zivug sheini, though I don't see why there needs to be more. Zivug rishon is the bas kol guy/gal, and zivug sheini would be the person you *actually* married, regardless of what number shidduch he/she was. Zivug sheini is based on merit (where you're holding spiritually, religiously, etc at the time you seek to get married) so that changes as you do. Hence, it fits your flexible puzzle imagery.

    Regarding your second question, I don't necessarily have an answer per se, other than the idea that just popped into my head:

    Yes, it is seemingly unfair for HaShem to snatch away someone else's bas kol guy/gal to be another's zivug sheini. BUT, what if that person who's bas kol guy/gal is going to someone else is because that THEY themselves aren't where they are supposed to be according to their spiritual potential, and thus need a zivug sheini as well! So it is a "fair" trade off. A doesn't live up to the potential to marry B, and C didn't live up to their potential to marry D, so A ends up marrying D, whose religious/spiritual level better suits him/her.

    This is the part that is mind boggling, especially since the mathematics are beyond my ken - is permutations the right word for this sort of calculation? At any rate, that is definitely an adequate explantion (at least in my book) for the great "difficulty" G-d has in managing the world's shidduchim charts.

  5. Shades of Grey- so theoretically your zivug sheini could be anyone? Because I think that there are certain people who you natuarally click with better than others and that the number of people besides your Bas Kol Person that you could potentially marry is a small number.

    Regarding your second point- that makes sense. I guess that's whay Hashem makes shidduchim, that explains the the Gemara that says that after creating the world Hashem sits and makes shidduchim! And then that a woman claims it's so easy to make matches so she puts 1,000 of her servants and maids together and it doesn't work out. It's complicated.

    I guess that's also how I pictured how Hashem deals with other situations. Like if you're stuck in traffic- that affects lots of people, and Hashem's hashgacha in the world is such that being stuck in traffic is what is best for every single person in that situation. I always wondered how Hashem coordinated stuff like that. That's why He is G-d. It IS mind boggling.

  6. While Hashem is running things, He did endow us with bechirah. So if someone is thinking, "Sure, I may have a bashert, but decide to marry this gal because her father's loaded" I think we can safely say he's passed on his bashert. But if someone dates with the open mind, no frivilous hangups, and is wants to see the bashert, he will get it.

  7. SternGrad - I think you answered your question with your second paragraph. I honestly have no clue how many people I could potentially marry/get along/match up with, but I do give HaShem credit for knowing that with absolute certainty. So it all works out, I presume.

    And I totally agree with Bookworm. That guy isn't looking for his bashert, he's looking for a bank account.

  8. Searching for the Best Dating Website? Join and find your perfect date.


Thanks for commenting! Comments are welcome, especially on old posts. Please do not use inappropriate language. Thanks!